More than 1,500 cyclists set off from the Wheatley Heights Sports Complex Saturday morning for the 27th annual Valero Ride to the River. The riders will cycle their way through South Texas until they reach the Comal County Fair Grounds in New Braunfels, having traveled 159 miles. On the second day of the ride, bikers will circle the roads west of New Braunfels and finish up back at the fair grounds.
The Valero Ride to the River raises money for multiple sclerosis (MS) research through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). This year, participants raised more than $1 million in donations and the top team, representing grocery giant H-E-B, raised more than $200,000 alone.
Many bikers arrived as early as 5 a.m. Saturday, observing as the darkness made way to a morning glow around the football field and surrounding track where cyclists would ride.
Bikers were grouped into several teams in order of launching number, which was based on how much money each team raised. Along the way, dozens of volunteers in yellow shirts will support the riders at rest stops and water breaks. Local personnel and police officers also were in attendance and a first aid tent was set up at the location to assist with any injuries.
As bikers strapped on helmets and gloves, teams yelled out donation amounts as motivation before the race and several participants wore white shirts with the phrase “I Bike with MS” on the back. Families showed up with signs and shirts in support of participating family members, and some even wore festive costumes.
“I’m here to support my husband,” said Cindy Cox, who wore a green fairy costume to the event.
“Team Wingman has been a great support system,” said biker Ruben Reyes, who suffers from MS. Reyes’ wife, Marisol, his daughter, Ariana, and son, Kingston, all came to cheer him on.
“We do things together outside of the Bike for MS event,” Reyes said. “It really helps us with MS as well as our family members who support us.”
To find out more about the Valero Ride to the River, click here.
Rivard Report Intern James McCandless contributed to this report.
Top image: Team H-E-B rides past the starting line. Photo by Anthony Francis.